House GOP formally oppose potential nomination of Amb. Rice

Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey reacts


This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 20, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: Nearly 100 House Republicans sending a letter to President Obama urging him against the possible nomination of Susan Rice for secretary of state, saying Rice is -- quote -- "widely viewed as having either willfully or incompetently misled the public on the Benghazi matter."

Today, Democrat Congressman James Clyburn said the letter was full of racial code words.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN, D-S.C.: These are code words. We heard them during the campaign. During this recent campaign, we heard Senator Sununu calling our president lazy, incompetent. These kinds of terms that those of us, especially those of us who were born and raised in the South, we have been hearing these little words and phrases all of our lives. And we get insulted by them.


VARNEY: Reaction now from one of the Republicans who signed that letter, Georgia Congressman Phil Gingrey.

Congressman, Does Representative Clyburn have a point? Because racist code words do exist, and to label someone as incompetent is traditionally a racist kind of approach to passing judgment on someone else. Do you think that Representative Clyburn has any kind of point at all here?

REP. PHIL GINGREY, R-GA.: I think he has got very little, if any kind of point. Representative Clyburn is number three in House leadership for the Democrats. He is a well-respected member. I like him very much.

He is an educator. He is a smart man. But, no, incompetence can be applicable to anybody, no matter what the gender or the race or ethnicity religion. So, he is grasping at straws there.

Look, 100 of us, in fact, several members of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, were signatories to that letter that was authored by Jeff Duncan from South Carolina and Mike McCaul from Texas. We don't want her being secretary of state.

And I agree with the context of the letter that basically says one of two things. Either she is incompetent time or she was part of a cover-up. Now, I personally do not believe that Susan Rice is incompetent. She is a graduate of Stanford. She is a Rhodes Scholar. She did graduate studies on Africa, on African countries. She is not incompetent. She is not dumb. She is very smart.

But I think it is highly likely that she is part of a cover-up, even though the president...

VARNEY: OK. So, you have got objective reasons for objecting to Susan Rice to become the next secretary of state. You are purely objective, you believe, in your letter.

GINGREY: Absolutely.

VARNEY: Now, let me turn this around.

Why do you think President Obama was considering Susan Rice to be secretary of state? Why did her name pop up?

GINGREY: Well, from what I have read, Stuart, they are very close, as he is very close, of course, to Eric Holder, the attorney general. And these are people that he has great confidence in and friendship. And we can understand that.

But she just -- why did he put her out there when -- and if he said she knew nothing about Benghazi, well, why do you put her out there? Why don't you put out Hillary Clinton? Maybe she knew too much about Benghazi and refused to go out there and perjure herself on the Sunday morning talk shows.

I think Susan Rice was on five different shows. I saw every one of them, Stuart. I heard her with my own ears. I know what she said. But, clearly, we need to get to the bottom of this, because it was James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, who said today he changed the memo, but apparently she didn't get the memo? I think that is highly unlikely.

VARNEY: So, we do not at this point know who changed the talking points that went from intelligence to Susan Rice, but were intercepted somewhere in between and they turned up in a different set of talking points? We don't know who did that yet?

GINGREY: Well, Clapper said today, I understand, the DNH (sic), director of national intelligence. We don't need him. We never did. This was a creation of the 9/11 Commission. I can understand the families of the 3,000 that lost their lives wanting to know why we were not connecting the dots.

But now have you got someone who basically can trump the CIA, especially if the president says to him -- I am not suggesting that he did, but he could have -- look, James, we need to kind of clean this up a little bit. We are doing really well. We're right about time for the election and we are doing very well on national security and this could blow our cover.


GINGREY: So, let's change that around a little bit.

VARNEY: Representative Phil Gingrey, Republican Georgia, thanks for joining us, sir. Thank you.

GINGREY: Thank you, Stuart.

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